Abdellatif Kechiche’s controversial “Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo” has given Cannes 2019 its biggest critical bomb. The movie debuted in competition May 23 and caused walkouts because of a nearly 15-minute oral sex scene that shocked audiences. Now “Mektoub” has launched on Rotten Tomatoes with a rare 0% score from eight critics. Rotten Tomatoes posts initial scores after five reviews have been submitted (one of which has to be from a top critic).
IndieWire’s senior film critic David Ehrlich gave “Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo” a C- review out of Cannes, calling it a the equivalent of a “cinematic lap dance” and criticizing the director for aggressively fetishizing his female characters. The review called “Mektoub” a new rock bottom for Kechiche’s career.
“Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo” is the sequel to Kechiche’s “Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno,” which premiered at the 2017 Venice Film Festival. Other negative reviews have been written by The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw and Guy Lodge of Variety, who referred to the movie as “a dismaying creative dead end.”
Kechiche came under fire at Cannes 2013 for his graphic sex scenes in “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” which took home the Palme d’Or, but he’s gotten even more backlash for his obsession with the female body in “Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo.” As The Guardian’s Robbie Cullen writes in his one star review, “Kechiche has always been an admirer of the female posterior, but here he shifts styles into what could be called gluteus maximalism, filling the screen with frantically gyrating hindquarters for literal hours on end.”
Despite the critical dings, Kechiche remained optimistic about the movie during its Cannes press conference. The director said he was trying to do something different with the movie and was aware from the start “not everyone is open to that new experience.”
“Not everyone shares the way I look at others,” the director said of the backlash. “Not everyone likes this or that kind of film for example so, no, it doesn’t bother me in the least. If what I see is what I want to see and if that doesn’t appeal to everyone, well, that is very fortunate, it would be a disaster if everyone watched a film in exactly the same way.”
Kechiche added, “I’ve tried to show what really resonates within me to see bodies, tummies, the buttocks,” Keciche said. “What I have tried to do is to describe things through movement. I may appear facile. But they are quite magical. I wanted to film the magic of the body. It’s the metaphysical aspect of the body that I have portrayed.”
“Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo” is currently seeking U.S. distribution.